Under a blazing blue summer sky, the 2011 Utah Arts Festival kicked off this afternoon. With volunteers still passing out name tags for booths, here's a glimpse at some of the amazing work you'll be able to find there. ---
Disclaimer: This is by no means intended as a definitive "what's good" statement. Your idiosyncratic mileage may vary.
The Surreal Thing: Some images just attack you as you're strolling by the booths. Santa Fe, New Mexico's Vic Lee (Booth 73) has that going for him with his large acrylic, ink and oil works of femme fatale-ish women; Coloradan Kevin Eslinger (Booth 127) gives a freaky twist to familiar characters like Alice in Wonderland, Kermit the Frog and Ronald McDonald. Watch also for the quirky digital prints by Tanya Doskova (Booth 77).
It Just Figures: It's hard to resist sculptures that seem to have ... personality. The "Forked Up Art" of North Salt Lake's Judson Jennings (Booth 49) turns utensils into lively characters, while Allyn, Washington resident Kathy Ross (Booth 133) applies paper and key-ring tennis shoes to framework characters that range from girls at play to Chinese dragons. Adam Homan (Booth 39) takes metal and electronics and crafts 3-D mixed-media works--dragons, robots and more--that feel like they're looking at you looking at them.
Take a Picture, It'll Last Longer: A camera on every phone doesn't make everyone a photographer. The bold, crisp images of Minnesota's Michael Behr (Booth 61) capture gorgeous locations in Greece and Italy. Matt Seuss (Booth 87) takes his digital prints and gives them bursts of digitally-enhanced color, creating eerily beautiful landscapes.
Going to Pot: Ceramic works on display may be fragile, but the vision behind them is strong. Californian Kurt McCracken (Booth 105) features bold designs shaped into everything from urns to gigantic bowler hats; Ogden's Johnny Hughes (Booth 36) prominently includes frogs in his whimsical creations.
Reduce, Reuse, ...: Bonus points to artist who use materials that could have ended up in landfills. North Carolina's Sompit Xia and Shao Lin Xia (Booth 25) turn aluminum beer and soda cans into model airplanes, tanks and other fascinating creations. Glass bottles, meanwhile, become the raw materials for the gorgeous pieces by Salt Lake City's Amber DeBirk (Booth 76).
More to Look For: Salt Lake City's own Leia Bell (Booth 90) offers perhaps the best bargain for those looking to take home some festival art with refrigerator-magnet versions of her familiar prints, $3 each or two for $5; the cityscapes of locations from San Francisco to downtown SLC come to life on the canvases of Aaron Memmott (Booth 67); insects and vintage images adorn the eye-catching jewelry of Christine Fedor (Booth 53); and spectacularly tactile kiln-fired glass pieces by SLC's Julie Stutznegger (Booth 88). And of course, don't miss the "Out of the Box" creations decorating City Weekly street boxes, inside the library lobby.